After finishing the Josephine B. trilogy and “I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced,” I was needing something light, quick and easy. Well, you can see that it’s been a while since I’ve posted a book review. This book definitely relied on its eye-catching cover, intriguing title and romantic premise to draw people in. I’ll admit, I was suckered into actually buying it. I mean, it’s hot pink and orange, for crying out loud!
It was definitely light — but not quick and easy. I could not get into it, but I was determined not to quit it. It was written to attract as many readers as possible and was certainly written for a different type of reader than I am. I was unable to relate to any of the characters, and I found myself bored with the storyline. Interestingly, I had the most difficult time relating to any of the women in the book — even moreso than the men. For me, it’s usually the opposite.
The story takes the reader to India where Mr. Ali, a retired man, decides to open a marriage bureau, helping well-to-do Indian families of all castes and religions arrange marriages for their brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. The concept was interesting to me. As someone who holds an anthropology degree, I am fascinated by different cultures and their practices. That’s what I was hoping to get in this book. But I didn’t. This was not so much a cultural study through literature as it was a poor attempt to provide the reader with a super basic, and somewhat confusing, look at the caste system in India.
In addition to learning about Mr. Ali, the reader is introduced to his assistant, Aruna, and her family. The story follows her troubles as she struggles to find a proper match for her own marriage — while helping customers at the bureau. Due to circumstances out of her control, her family does not have enough money for a proper wedding, much less a proper dowry. So she remains unmarried. With no hope. Until that fateful day when a new client comes into the bureau with his family, seeking to find a suitable bride. Not an appropriate match for Aruna due to monetary and situational concerns, this client is put on “the list” for potential brides.
Long story short (don’t read further if you don’t want the story spoiled), Aruna and the client fall in love, overcome obstacles so they can get married and live happily ever after.
Quite cliché, quite predictable and, honestly, quite forced.